But for over a century or so, there has also been the practice, often exercised by a single person, of designing and making furniture that obeys other criteria and has other aims, i.e. the description of a fantastic world, the desire of a thinker to express himself with a design, and then the actual construction of allegories, of ‘physicalised’ diagrams of thought.
Some architects do this because they have discovered that the creation of a piece of furniture can aid them in working out an architectural plan as well as illustrate many things: their time, their existence, their love, desires and wishes. When one considers architecture, on whatever scale, when the models are prepared in reduced size, the checks are often uncertain…
In furniture, the design exercise is less frustrating: one can use drawings or models, but (and furniture is unique in this in the world of design) the models must be life-size, not reduced, and the materials used have to be the actual ones planned! It means working on the project and not being bogged down on a silly 1:100 scale (if you’re lucky).
This was a great discovery for those in my generation, like Archizoom, Ufo, Superstudio, and of course myself. Being faced by the full-size results of your design phase, in the actual materials, and in just a short space of time (compared to the years that architectural plans require, and when the building is finally completed, you have already moved on, you are after), producing the design, tackling it, and seeing it face to face is a thrilling experience. This is permitted to visual artists like actors and set designers, but to architects no. Thus, the production of furniture becomes an important aspect of the architect’s externalisation of self and the organisation of spaces. And seeing that you are right at the start, your own vision of the world flows into these allegories. The item of furniture becomes a vehicle or a tool that allows you to externalise and face up to yourself, it becomes a place of dreams, the fantastic and the visionary. All this is accompanied by writings, drawings, models, prototypes and paraphernalia.